Nelson Piquet, from pole fails to get the best of starts, Didier Pironi moves up the outside of him in an attempt to take the position, however Alan Jones has storm up the inside. Piquet, refusing to give away in the kink before the first corner sees the two championship rivals collide. Piquet goes spinning into the wall, causing the mid-field to bunch up and cause a chain reaction of collisions. Alongside Piquet, Derek Daly, Jean-Pierre Jarier, Gilles Villeneuve, Emerson Fittipaldi, Keke Rosberg, Mario Andretti and Jochen Mass are all eliminate as a result of this incident. With eight cars blocking the run down to the first corner, the race is stop as the driver's involved in the accident run back to the pits for the spare cars. Whilst not involve in the accident, Mike Thackwell who is running the third Tyrrell is forces to give up his car to team leader Jarier. The second driver of Daly is force to sit out the race, his race car too badly damage to continue. All the other driver's involve in the crash are able to take the restart in the spare cars. On the second re-start, Pironi makes a suspiciously strong start to overtake Piquet. Jones has also makes a strong start taking Piquet as well to move into the lead of the race. The poor start will not deter Piquet and soon enough he is back in the lead moving ahead of both Pironi and Jones. Further down the field, Riccardo Patrese crashes out whilst a lap later Bruno Giacomelli ruins another chance for good results when he spins out of fourth place, damaging his car and forcing himself into retirement. With Giacomelli's retirement, this meant John Watson takes fourth who is doing a solid job for McLaren. Piquet begins to immediately open up a strong lead, championship rival Jones seemingly unable to match him.
However on lap 24, Piquet's engine blow sending him out of the race. All Jones needs to do to win the title is to win the race, if he wins the point's deficit to Piquet will be too great for him to be overtaken at the final round at Watkins Glen. Jones, however, isn’t unscathe following his collision with Piquet in the first start. The rear of his car is somewhat damages which is allowing Pironi to close on the rear of him. As this occurs, Alain Prost in the second McLaren is running a very strong race, he has overtaken Jacques Laffite early in the race and then on lap 25 he moves ahead of Carlos Reutemann to take fourth place, putting him behind teammate Watson. The same lap, there is a major disaster. Jean-Pierre Jabouille who is running well down the field, the Renault car not competitive around the Montreal circuit, suffer a suspension failure pitching Jabouille into the barriers at full speed. Jabouille suffers serious leg injuries, breaking both his legs. The fire team has to cut the incapacitate Jabouille out of the car before he was rushed to hospital. Late in the race, a minute time penalty is handed to Pironi for jumping the start of the race. As a result Jones let Pironi through rather than risk further damaging his car in fighting the Ligier driver. Prost meanwhile catches up to the rear of McLaren teammate Watson and is challenging for third place, however on lap 41 Prost suffers a suspension failure pitching him into the barriers and ending his terrific drive. In the closing laps Watson also spins, which results in him dropping behind Reutemann and back down into fourth place. Whilst Pironi takes the checker flag, his time penalty drops him down to third behind the two Williams cars of Alan Jones, the new world champion and Carlos Reutemann. Watson finishes fourth for McLaren ahead of Gilles Villeneuve and Héctor Rebaque.